Howl's Moving Castle

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Howl's Moving Castle Book Poster Image
Young girl turned old lives with a wizard.
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 9 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Howl drinks brandy and gets drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there's not much to concern parents here.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byLittleRobot July 8, 2010

Wonderful!

I read this book when I was 15. It's great. Wonderful story, very uplifting!
Adult Written byTeachermom111569 June 26, 2012

A Satisfying Read For A Wide Age Range

This is a thought-provoking book that makes a good read-aloud for families. Although it is not difficult to read, the plot is complicated with lots of surprise... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bymoodystuff449 December 23, 2010

THE BEST BOOK EVER WRITTEN!!!!!

I don't know WHAT you people are talking about. This is the BEST BOOK I HAVE EVER READ IN MY ENTIRE LIFE! I've read it 4 times! It's the first bo... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008

great book and a must read

sophie hatter is the eldest so she takes care of the hat shop when her father dies. one day the witch of the waste comes and is not pleased so turns sophie into... Continue reading

What's the story?

Sophie is trapped in her life as the responsible eldest daughter who runs the family hat business and has nothing to look forward to. Everything changes when the evil Witch of the Waste bursts into her shop and, for mysterious reasons, turns her into an old woman. Wandering away from town she finds herself alone in the wilderness at night, and stumbles across the titular castle, owned by a wizard rumored to take the souls of young girls.

Once there she makes a deal with a captive fire demon -- if she breaks the contract between the demon and Howl, the demon will lift the spell on Sophie. There's only one problem -- no one can tell her what the contract is, or how to break it.

Is it any good?

Diana Wynne Jones writes the old-fashioned kind of fantasy: fascinating and original, but slow and meandering. Once Sophie settles in at the castle, it's hard to say what the story is about for the next couple of hundred pages. That's not to say it's boring -- far from it. But, much like the castle that wanders around in the wilderness, it doesn't seem to go much of anywhere, or to have a definite purpose.

Eventually there's a nice climactic showdown; though much of it happens offstage, so to speak, a few secrets and surprises are revealed, and it's wrapped up satisfyingly. Die-hard fantasy lovers adore this and other Wynne Jones books, but those who need action, adventure, or a clear plotline may find it too murky.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it would be like suddenly to be old, to have a child's mind in an elderly body. There's a lot about adulthood and old age that children don't know or understand, and they may be interested to try to imagine Sophie's predicament.

Book details

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